Aussies in New York, Part IV: Glen Coates, CEO of Handshake

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Dreaming of NYC? These peeps are living it.

In this series, we talk to 13 industry leaders who have made the jump from Australia to NYC and are kicking it in their fields, from food to media and international advocacy. Here, Glen Coates, CEO of Handshake, AKA the Salesforce of wholesale, reveals what it takes to make it in the city of dreams.

Company: Handshake is a B2B mobile sales and e-commerce platform that assists manufacturers and distributors by making the buying and selling process simple, intuitive and paperless.
Originally from: Sydney
Visa: E3

Why did you decide to move to New York? New York is in-your-face in a way that no other city is. No other city has anything close to the same all-day relentless hustle. I spent a week here in 2007 and was hooked immediately.

Did you have a job lined up? When I moved to New York in 2010, I was remotely managing IT and operations for the company that I had worked for in San Diego. I began work on Handshake in my spare time, but decided to throw myself into it full-time at the start of 2011 after quitting business school. I haven’t looked back.

What does a typical day at the office involve? Fundamentally, my job is to build the best possible team at Handshake to change the way B2B commerce is done.

How does the US differ to Australia? The venture capital ecosystem in Australia is much smaller than it is over here, which makes getting the funding to grow a company more difficult. Being based here is also crucial to being closer to your customers. Being located here is table-stakes for being a serious player in a large technology market.

What do you miss about Australia? I used to live near the beach at Maroubra and could check the surf from my bed. I can’t really do that in Brooklyn.

“New Yorkers are actually among the friendliest, most welcoming people I’ve ever encountered.”

Your best advice for Aussies moving to New York? Please resist the temptation to start any conversation with a fellow Aussie by saying, “Isn’t it so weird how Americans do x?” Lots of things are different here, because, yep, it’s a different country. Embrace it.

How have you found making local friends? Despite having a reputation for being tough, New Yorkers are actually among the friendliest, most welcoming people I’ve ever encountered, as long as you’re not being an asshole or getting in the way.

What’s your weekend go-to? Food, food, food. Then long walks to burn it off. I also started skateboarding once I realised that surfing before work was no longer possible.

What’s your neighbourhood like? I live in Williamsburg. There are three skate parks within five minutes of my apartment. What’s not to like?

Read More
Aussies in New York, Part I | Restaurateur Rupert Noffs of The Lucky Bee
Aussies in New York, Part II | Associate Director Jason Maggs of Mindshare
Aussies in New York, Part III | Co-founder Billie Whitehouse of Wearable X

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